Bring your mittens — Bones is going to the tundra (at least academically). Brennan is called in to investigate when the body of billionaire explorer Henry Charles, who mysteriously disappeared 15 years ago in the far northern reaches of Alaska, turns up in a melting ice slope. Global climate change: closing unsolved murders, one ecologically devastated region at a time.
Henry’s final expedition was historic even before he disappeared; he and his team uncovered the remains of the Frank Party, missing 19th-century explorers who cannibalized each other. But history hits home when Clark reveals he was on that expedition — not the Frank trek, obviously, although Clark plays things so close to the chest that if he turned out to be a time-traveler who witnessed cannibalism, I wouldn’t be too surprised. Clark was a 20-year-old college intern on Henry’s doomed Alaskan mission, though he hasn’t mentioned it once before. And Henry didn’t die of hypothermia; Brennan finds wounds on his skull that point toward murder. Only five people, including Henry and Clark, went on that trip. Clark just became a suspect.
No one really thinks he did it, but Clark doesn’t help his case when he gets a lawyer and stops talking. Booth and Aubrey turn their attention to the other people on the team: lead archaeologist Marcus Eldridge, teaching assistant Hazel Mitchell, and Henry’s right-hand man, mountain guide Declan Marshall. This is fun. It’s like an old-fashioned murder-mystery dinner with a cannibalistic twist. Shall we meet the suspects? Eldridge wrote about the trip in a hit memoir; now he’s an archaeology rock star in the style of Indiana Jones. His life would have looked pretty different if Henry were around to take credit for the find, but Eldridge insists Henry was his friend, and he probably would have bankrolled a lot more of his expeditions. Why kill the money?
As for Hazel, the crew logbook puts her on the ice ridge with Henry on the day of his death, right next to an 80-foot crevasse (which is now a foot at most… look at it and despair). Hazel, confident and professional, doesn’t seem especially concerned by the fact that she’s a murder suspect. At Declan’s request, she steered clear of the ridge and stayed with Clark on his sleep break (they weren’t sleeping) while Declan set off a controlled avalanche in the area. There’s evidence of dynamite residue on Henry’s hand. According to Declan, he and his boss were arguing over the incoming storm; Declan wanted them to fly out, but Henry refused to leave until they’d exhumed the rest of the Frank Party.
Worried they might have to leave at a moment’s notice, Declan went behind Henry’s back and arranged for the pilot to come early — meaning there was actually one more person in the area at the time of Henry’s death. Helicopter pilot Alice Tuuq has a kind of history with Henry: She was arrested while protesting his company for trying to develop a mining operation on sacred Native land. But she says she saw Henry go inside the Frank Party’s hut with someone else, and they looked like they were arguing.
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The hut just happens to be an exhibit at the Jeffersonian, so Hodgins and Aubrey check it for blood. How many other exhibits at the museum are murder sites? Let’s trap the whole team in there overnight; whoever solves the most murders wins. Hodgins’ wheelchair can’t fit inside the hut, but he takes it in stride. Mostly. (“Hodgins, it’s a flashlight. It’s not rocket science.”) I’m so proud. Aubrey finds a corner covered in blood, so we have the scene of the crime.
But the evidence isn’t in Clark’s favor. Henry was punched in the head, and because whoever did it wasn’t wearing gloves, the team can find a knuckle pattern in the tissue. Everyone but Clark submits to the test, but that’s enough to eliminate everyone but Clark. In the interrogation room, he admits to punching Henry after catching him with Hazel. Clark did a lot of stupid things for Hazel — including not cataloging her mistake when she accidentally nicked the C4 vertebrae on one of the bodies. Everything about Clark’s by-the-books personality is starting to make sense; he’s compensating for a time when he let his emotions get in the way of his work.
NEXT: Cannibal puns
Brennan has never been the type to do the same, which is why she hasn’t exactly been acting like the best ally to Clark. The way she sees it, the best thing she can do for him in the long run is keep following the evidence. But Brennan can talk about objectivity all she wants; when she agrees to give the evidence one more pass, it’s because she believes in Clark. He pleads with her from across the table: “We’ve worked together for nearly a decade. If there’s anyone who could prove my innocence, it’s you.” The team pores over the bones and particulates, but Brennan finds her answer in a book: Eldridge’s pictures of the cannibalized bones are so blurry, it’s almost like he wanted them that way.
Eldridge faked the cannibalism in order to gain notoriety. (The most perfectly Bones-y joke of the hour goes to Aubrey, who accuses, “You figured you’d turn the Yawner Party into the Donner Party.” Wow.) Eldridge claims his crimes stop there, but he phrases it like all killers do: “You will never prove that I’m a murderer.” That’s practically a confession, with one important twist: He actually didn’t do it. He might have been aware of the murder — and he might have even helped cover it up — but he’s not the one who swung the axe. That honor goes to Hazel, who knew her career was riding on Eldridge’s reputation. When Henry told her he was going to report Eldridge, she killed him to keep the secret hidden. A fragment of C4 vertebrae on the murder weapon gave it all away.
Clark dated a murderer, and that’s not even the worst thing happening to him right now. His reputation is being dragged through the mud because he falsified evidence. Clark tells Brennan he’s tendering his resignation — he should have known the cannibalism was fake — but Brennan reminds him that he wasn’t a forensic anthropologist then. Anyway, mistakes make for a better scientist. She’s already written a defense of Clark in the latest Forensic Anthropology Times, and she’s not turning back on her word now. Clark hugs her and gets back to work.
Meanwhile, Cam’s sister Felicia is out to mend fences by planning Cam’s entire wedding. In a day. She’s trying to give Cam what she thinks she wants: a no-nonsense, fuss-free experience. But this is Cam’s wedding. Maybe she wants some fuss this time. Felicia is stripping all the fun out of the wedding and making way too many assumptions along the way; when she picks out a simple dress and calls it “the perfect Camille Saroyan,” Cam looks like she just had her entire personality handed to her on a platter. She tries on a princess-y dress and slumps on a couch. (To be clear, that dress is not my first choice either, but if anyone could pull off sleeves that puffy, it’s probably Cam.)
Cam doesn’t want to upset the balance of her relationship with Felicia now that they’re finally on good terms again, but her friends argue that honesty is worth it. “If Angela and I have learned anything from my being in this chair,” Hodgins says, “it’s that a person can’t possibly know what you’re thinking unless you tell them.” Cam takes his advice — it doesn’t hurt that Hodgins and Angela are sitting right behind her making faces when Felicia drops by — and tells her sister she wants a fancy wedding. Felicia takes it well. Bring on the glamorous dresses for Cam! Just hopefully not that last one.
Bits and pieces: